Popular with daytrippers and campers, Granite Gorge is a privately owned nature park near Mareeba with stunning scenery and lots to see and do, especially if you’re touring the Cairns Tablelands with children.
Colleen Bryde is the lucky owner who gets to call this beautiful property her backyard. The striking scenery and rich wildlife have been luring tourists since 1977.
Many of them pop in for a quick look at the wallabies on their way through on a tour although it is also very popular with birdwatchers who come for the extensive range of savannah bird life in the park.
However if you only pop in for an hour just to see the wallabies you’ll be missing out. There’s much more fun to be had if you stay longer and go prepared.
Here’s our tips on things to do at Granite Gorge Nature Park:
The big drawcard at Granite Gorge is the rock wallabies.
This particular colony is an endangered species that is unique to the Mareeba area.
This is the only place where you can feed them in the wild so not surprisingly, they are the first thing that most people go looking for when they arrive at the park.
The wallabies are cute, gentle and easy to get up close to, especially so with a bag of $1 feed in your pocket.
Make sure you buy one from the reception area before you make your way down to ‘Wallaby Rock’ just a short walk below the entrance.
Besides birds and lizards you might also come across a few farm animals wandering around including a pony, pig, ducks and turkeys!
Granite Gorge is great for camping and it is particularly popular with families (especially those with pets).
The campground has plenty of shaded space.
The area at the top near the entrance is dry and sandy with a few powered sites and a basic facilities including hot showers and toilets and shared kitchens (including a kettle so you can easily make an early morning cuppa) and BBQ’s.
There is also a large flat grassy area down by the river, which is great but it’s a bit of a walk to the facilities so be prepared to be more self-sufficient if you want to camp by the water.
There are also some basic cabins available for non-campers.
The sunsets at Granite Gorge are unmissable.
Sitting on one of the huge boulders at the top of the gorge is a must-do if you’re staying overnight.
There is no better place to enjoy sunset drinks with fantastic views across the landscape as the sky turns orange, pink and purple.
4. walking tracks
The landscape at Granite Gorge is a natural adventure playground with gigantic boulders, caves, swim holes, creeks, bridges and waterfalls.
It is rock-hopping heaven for kids and definitely worth exploring.
There are three marked walking trails of about 1km each, which are great fun to do.
However, be aware that the trail all the way to Whale Rock is reasonably strenuous as it involves climbing over rocks. Also, if you’re afraid of heights you might not enjoy looking down the crevices as you step over big boulders.
We did all the trails with two children aged 8 and 5 and they managed them okay but we wouldn’t recommend it with younger children.
Make sure you take good walking shoes.
5. Swimming, fishing and kayaking
There is a river that flows into Granite Gorge that has been partly dammed, creating a large lagoon area that is ideal for swimming.
The river also provides plenty of opportunities for kayaking or fishing if you take your own gear.
travel nq fast facts:
- Safety: There are no crocodiles at Granite Gorge so swimming in the river is safe although individuals must take the usual precautions regarding safety. We advise against swimming during the wet season when heavy rains can cause flash flooding (there have been a couple of drowning incidents in the past).
- Granite Gorge is about 12kms from Mareeba where there is a supermarket and other shops for supplies. It is well sign-posted from Mareeba.
- Pets are allowed and owners are responsible for their behaviour. This is a family friendly campground with lots of kids so leave hunting dogs at home.
- Campfires are allowed. You are allowed to pick up dead wood for fires but don’t chop down trees.
- For more information call 4093 2259.